Business, but not as usual, at Singapore Airshow

The makers of next-generation military jets and civil aircraft gather every two years at the Singapore Airshow, billed as Asia’s largest aerospace and defence event.

Suppliers and customers attending the high-profile show typically discuss cutting-edge technologies and network in the hope of making multi-million-dollar deals, while being entertained by overhead fighter jet aerobatics.

This year, however, the 7th Singapore Airshow opened on Tuesday in the shadow of the outbreak of a deadly coronavirus leading dozens of companies to pull out. Officially known as COVID-19, the virus emerged in the Central Chinese city of Wuhan in December and has since spread to more than two dozen countries around the world, with Singapore having the second-highest number of cases after China.

More than 70 exhibitors were reported to have withdrawn, about eight percent of the roughly 1,000 firms originally slated to appear, including 12 Chinese companies facing restrictions on entry into Singapore, which banned arrivals from mainland China.

No-shows included US aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, Canada’s Bombardier and plane maker De Havilland. Other companies that withdrew include defence firms Raytheon Co, Bell, Gulfstream, Textron Aviation, Honeywell Aerospace, Viking Air and CAE Inc.

Overall, organisers of the show that will close on Sunday said there were some 930 exhibiting companies and close to 30,000 trade attendees, down from the 2018 event when more than 1,000 companies and more than 54,000 trade participants took part.


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